In my state (Virginia) you can be cited for “reckless” driving for exceeding any speed limit by more than 20 MPH. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t – because so many speed limits are preposterously low to begin with. I’ll give you an example: I-581 near Roanoke is (as the “I” plainly concedes) an Interstate highway. It is three lanes each direction and limited access (i.e., no traffic lights – just on and off ramps). Yet it is posted an absolutely ridiculous 55 MPH. Which means, driving a mere 76 MPH is sufficient to draw a “reckless” charge.
Meanwhile, 70 is perfectly legal on adjacent I-81 (which, incidentally, is only two lanes each direction). The same 76 MPH on that road would be – at most – a minor ticket.
However, Virginia has another nasty surprise in store for the unwary: Anything more than 80 on any road, anywhere in the commonwealth is also statutory “reckless” driving.
79 MPH – just a ticket.
81 – “reckless.”
This is no ordinary mail-in-the-fine-and-be-done-with-it ticket, either.
The cop can, at his discretion, arrest you on the spot and cart you off to the clink (and have your vehicle towed to an impound lot at your expense).
Usually, that does not happen – probably because the cops themselves know these “reckless” tickets are grotesque perversions of language. However, what will happen is you’ll be issued a piece of paper ordering you to appear at court (not optional) on such-and-such a date, where – if convicted – you’ll be slapped with six DMV demerit points (vs. the usual speeding ticket’s three or four) a hugefine (several hundred bucks, at least) a likely suspension of your “privilege” to drive – and the absolute certainty that your government-mandated insurance premiums will double for the next several years at least. Obviously, hiring a lawyer to game the system is essential.
But either way, you will pay.
Best case, you’ll avoid the conviction – but there’s no avoiding the lawyer’s fee. $700-$1,000 or so is the going rate. Worst case, you’ll be convicted. Which means in addition to the lawyer’s fee – which you’ll pay regardless - you’ll also pay the fines levied by the court, as well as the jacked-up insurance rates for years to come.
The total cost if convicted of “reckless” driving can easily amount to thousands of dollars.
All for the Great Crime of driving 76 on an Interstate highway where everyone is doing about the same thing – and nothing unsafe (much less ”reckless”) about it. Ditto 66 in an under-posted 45 zone – or 82 in a 70 – and so on.
Which brings me to the following. It is a natural – a normal – thing for a prey animal to flee from a predator. No one expects an antelope to just freeze in place and await the lion. Most people, if they saw such a thing, would consider it odd. What is wrong with the antelope? Doesn’t he see the lion?
It’s interesting that many of these same people nonetheless expect two-legged prey to stand still for two-legged predators. It is a remarkable thing. A manifestation of cognitive dissonance – what I like to call Cloverism (see here for more about that).
Of course, it will be argued that the two-legged predators in question (cops) are not going to kill you. It is merely implied (though of course, sometimes they actually do kill their prey). All that cop’s going to do, these people will say, is hand you a ticket. Instead of all your flesh (as per the antelope and the lion) the two-legged predator merely wants a pound or two.